LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Friday, April 13, 2007


The problem with magic, of course, is that it is difficult to discern black magic from white magic. I’m sure no one would argue with me that the BD meter is absolutely magic. No question about that. The argument comes in over whether it is good or bad magic.

I’ve got to tell you. The first time you check you BG with it, watch it flash and then see the same number appear on the screen of your pump….it is mesmerizing. I was so taken with it I ran and got Deb and Rio and did another finger stick so they could see. Deb was blown away too, the little one not so much so. At five years old, the world is packed with magic. Of course BG meters send data to pumps. Can I go back and watch Sponge Bob now?

The BD meter has more bad press than almost any other modern functional diabetes device. Where there is so much smoke there must be some fire. Maybe I’ve got a new-and-improved model. Or maybe I just haven’t used it enough to see its dark side, but so far I actually like the thing.

Every day I get to use the following test strips: Accu-Chek, FreeStyle, OneTouch, and Precision X-tra. At least once a week Bayer Contour, and now and again odd-balls like Tack Ease and the like. This was my first contact with the BD. Gotta say, I really like the BD test strip. I’ve already covered how much I like the little tiny canisters, but it is the blood sucking part of the test strip that is really blew me away. Like all of the above, except the FreeStyle, the BD has a preview window that allows you to observe the blood-flow and fill-levels into the strip. The BD is the fastest wicking strip on the market except for the Accu-Chek. The damn Accu-Chek is so fast that if you don’t have the strip lined up with the blood drop just right, the meter will start testing before being full. Then it gives you an error message while stealing another dollar from your wallet. People more paranoid than I am have suggested that this design “flaw” is intentional, to sell more test strips.

I digress. The BD is fast, uses a very small drop, and always for me so far, fills right. One worry I have is that the strip is short and the port shallow. The strip has a lot of wiggle room. Will that effect accuracy?

I decide to compare the BD to a couple other meters around the house. I gather up part of the collection and put strips in each of their little mouths. Next, time to lance. Click. Snap. Squeeze. Damn. That is not nearly enough blood. Got to be quick, these puppies will time out. The little finger is the most tender. Click. Snap. Ouch! Son-a-bitch! That hurt! Squeeze… ah, nice big, big, big drop of blood. To the meters, which now look like some sort of swarm of vampire bats clustered around my finger. Give them each a sip of blood in turn….quick! Write the numbers down!

Well, the BD’s accuracy seems no worse than any other meter. Checking three BD strips in a row I found: 151, 143, 155 all from the same drop of blood. That is an extraordinarily tight spread. Most strips have up to 20% spread. Assuming the “real” BG was 150 we could expect a 30 point range, so this is pretty sweet. I’ll run a HemoCue comparison at the clinic next week, and let you know how it stacks up. (The HemoCue is a lab instrument we use for Dxing diabetes and checking meter function, it is super-accurate to the point of being the last word in testing. But it is big, and slow, and takes a lot of blood--which is why I haven’t stolen it.)

So if the strip platform is really as good as it looks at first glance, how did BD blow it? My theory: well, I’ve never seen a BD rep. Have you? I see BD ads in magazines, they look like what you’d expect an enema company to have published in Life Magazine in 1951. The way to sell test strips is to give meters to diabetes educators, clinics, and doctors; who in turn give them to diabetics. You need presence to get sales. BD seems to have had no presence.

I’m beginning to wonder if BD stands for Big Dickheads. Here is a company that just doesn’t seem to know how to market it’s stuff. A shame, cause I’m thinking this device may not deserve the bad rep it has, and it took all BD meters and strips down along with it. Or it may be like Firestone, a fine company that made a bad product and then handled it poorly.

Other gripes so far on the BD, no back light that I can find. Not like diabetics need to check their blood in the middle of the night or anything…

On an interesting side note, the BD meter is also used as a translator between the pump and a computer. The pump talks to the meter, the meter talks to the computer, the computer talks to the internet, and the internet talks to MedT’s servers where CareLink lives. The knee bone is connected to the shin bone, the shin bone is contacted to… Of course for all of this you need a cable that I don’t have yet. Oh well, its just as well to have a week or two of data to look at before we dive into software anyway.

So the jury is still officially out on the BD Link. It is an amazing concept. It seems to be working for me so far, but I know way more people that hate it than love it. I suppose there could be some sort manufacturing issues. Lemons and Gems? Did I get one from a good batch? Or are they better now? Did BD quietly make changes? Or do I just need more time to see its dark side?

MedT pumpers, check in with your votes. White magic or black magic?

Tomorrow: let the insulin flow! Well, drip, if you want to get all technical about it…


Blogger Christine said...

I have a BD meter and you caused me to decide to give it another shot. When i tested I felt marginally low. I clocked in at 103. My other meter had me at a 71. If the actual glucose was 80, this is fine, but I'm guessing my actual glucose was closer to 70, and since I have unawareness sometimes, I just can't deal with that.

This was "another shot" on a newer BD meter actually though. When I gave up the first time, and I really wanted to like the BD meter, I was getting 170s when my other meters were telling me 50, and vice versa. I dunno. One theory I have is that their accuracy degenerates with age.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Lili said...

I've only ever used mine to download data from my pump.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I never had issues with my BD meter. It worked fabulously until my insurance company changed and my copay went up like only $600. ya. NOt cool. so i switched to the ultra smart, and my copay with that? $0. no contest.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my favorite thing about the BD is the small test strip tube, and I've never had any problems with the machine itself. But I just switched to the FreeStyle Mini (I think it's the Flash in the US) and the main reason was for the backlight (which is a fatal flaw for the BD in my opinion)

6:24 PM  
Blogger George said...

I have always liked my BD meter but my insurance will not cover the strips for it so the One touch gets all the love around here.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

With the BD meter, I'm sure it's fairly accurate like all the other meters when your blood sugar is normal. But I have tested often when I am low, and the BD meter always clocked me in the 70s or 80s. When I test when I feel low on the Ultra, I'm invariably in the 50s or 60s. So I think I have been misled into thinking I'm much more sensitive to low blood sugars than I actually am, and that's why I don't trust the BD meter. And I've used several, not just one meter, so I know it isn't just a malfunctioning one. I've used about three or four different BD meters since I switched to the newer Paradigm pump.

9:59 AM  

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